Self motivation – leaders can’t lead without it

Unless forced, an individual can only motivate themselves to do something well. Self motivation is about developing enthusiasm for an idea, ideal, or task, and then moving to action. Self-starters are inspired by their own passion. Leaders motivate themselves first, and then create aspirational and inspirational messages that influence others to motivate themselves to follow.

Entrepreneurs and emergent leaders develop passions for ideas, ideals, or tasks that give them the enthusiasm to “go for it” even when others criticize, object, resist, or ignore an opportunity or threat. A self-starter takes the initiative and the risk to transform their ideas or ideals into results that benefit others. All leaders have to rely upon their own instincts and establish an environment that motivates others; sometimes in lonely and uncertain conditions. They must influence others to motivate themselves who, in turn may become leaders in their own right.

Self motivation has five ingredients: positive attitude, ambition, confidence, commitment, and self assessment.


Positive attitude:

Attitude reflects an individual’s positive or negative state of mind towards an event, activity, condition, item or another individual. Attitude affects actions; it is easy to be negative and think of barriers, obstacles, and failure. Whereas contingency plans should always be considered to prevent or recover from negative outcomes, it is better to think of what is possible than what isn’t. Attitude can be changed through persuasion; favorable results and success stem from positives attitudes. Hence, it is important to examine the benefits of the situation or proposition, and think in terms of how the best results can be achieved effectively and efficiently.


Ambition is the basis of motivation for achieving status, power, and results. Ambition requires an aspiration (ideal or dream) – a mission and a vision, and self-esteem – the belief in oneself to achieve a positive result.


Confidence is the level of certainty that a hypothesis regarding an intended action or outcome is correct. With respect to accomplishing the intended outcome, confidence is the level of certainty that the related people, processes, and products and/or services are capable. Self-confidence is belief in one’s own capabilities. Confidence is the basis for motivation for action.


Commitment is the pledge to an aspiration and creates the obligation to engage and remain in activities that realize it.

Self assessment:

Self assessment is the willingness to understand one’s own strengths and weaknesses so as to undertake a specific role and associated responsibility. The consequence is taking advantage of strengths, improving weaknesses, or compensating for them by engaging others.

The criteria for self assessment include: aptitude, qualifications, ability, proficiency, and experience:

  • Aptitude – suitability for a role
  • Qualifications – standard conditions or requirements to perform the role and accept the responsibility
  • Ability – expected quality of performance
  • Proficiency – level of competencies (knowledge and skills)
  • Experience – application of competencies (or lack thereof) to actual situations, with the related learning

Competence includes:

  • Personal – intra (self) and inter (relationships with others) – oral and written communications, and appearance
  • Professional and technical
  • Enterpriship – entrepreneurship, leadership, and management


Leaders cannot attract followers unless they are self-motivated; they can manage but they cannot lead.

The ability to self-motivate is an enterpriship competency.


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